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Possum Skin Cloak Story

Reconnecting Communities and Culture

Culture is the framework through which we connect to our Country, our Belonging. It defines and makes us who we are. Our language, stories, songs, dance, artefacts, cultural knowledge and practices demonstrate our continuing connections.” — Vicki Couzens. 

Possum skin cloaks were a vital part of Aboriginal peoples lives in pre-European times. To make a cloak was a very labour intensive and time-consuming process. Telling the story of the Possum Skin Cloak strengthens cultural identity, connection to country and health, and education and justice within an indigenous community context. The impact of the revival of possum skin cloaks as a community cultural practice has been significant and profound.

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Vicki Couzens
VC Indigenous Research Fellow
School: Design and Social Context

vicki.couzens@rmit.edu.au

Dr Couzens is Gunditjmara from the Western Districts of Victoria. She acknowledges her ancestors and elders who guide her work.

Dr Couzens has worked in Aboriginal community affairs for almost 40 years. Her contributions in the reclamation, regeneration and revitalisation of cultural knowledge and practice extend across the arts and creative cultural expression’ spectrum including language revitalisation, ceremony, community arts, public art, visual and performing arts, and writing. She is a Senior Knowledge Custodian for Possum Skin Cloak Story and Language Reclamation and Revival in her Keerray Woorroong Mother Tongue.

Vicki is employed at RMIT as a Vice Chancellors Indigenous Research Fellow developing her Project watnanda koong meerreeng , tyama-ngan malayeetoo (together body and country, we know long time)’ The key objective of this Project is to produce model/​s, pathways and resources for continuing the reinvigoration of Aboriginal Ways of Knowing Being and Doing with a special focus on language revitalisation.

The Hydrating Bungaribee

Rethinking waste water recovery

The Hydrating Bungarribee project brought together varied expertise from across different schools to creatively reimagine how public open space can transform waste water to contribute to positive recreational, environmental and social outcomes in the face of increasingly extreme climatic events.

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Anton James
Professor of Landscape Architecture
School: Architecture and Urban Design

Personal website
anton.james@rmit.edu.au

Professor Anton James, who trained as a landscape architect and visual artist, has over a period of 20 years designed projects in Australia, Europe and the USA. He has won numerous awards and competitions, both in Australia and overseas. His work continues to focus on design as a means to explore a site’s spatial, environmental and material tension for their potential to enrich the urban experience. 

As a working director of JMD design, Anton’s focus on design and innovation continues to contribute to the quality of the built environment. In 2011 he was the recipient of the Australian Medal for Landscape Architecture for the Paddington Reservoir.

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Yoko Akama
Communication Design

Yoko Akama is a design researcher at RMIT University, Australia. She co-leads the Design and Social Innovation in Asia-Pacific network and Design+Ethnography+Futures research program at RMIT

Her Japanese heritage has embedded a Zen-informed relational practice to carve a tao’ (path) in design and has published extensively on this topic. This practice is shaped by working with regional communities in Australia in strengthening their resilience for disaster preparedness, and with Indigenous Nations enact their sovereignty and self-determination. She is an Adjunct Fellow of a ecosystem innovation studio, Re:public Japan, and Visiting Fellow at the Centre of Excellence in Media Practice, Bournemouth University. She serves on several editorial boards of international journals, and conference review committees. She is a recipient of several major research grants in Australia and the UK and winner of the prestigious Good Design Australia Awards in 2014.

Hugh Davies
Games

Hugh Davies is an artist, curator and researcher of games and play. His practice explores histories of media devices and cultures of games in the Asia Pacific Region. Awarded a PhD in Art, Design and Architecture from Monash University in 2014, Hugh’s studies in game cultures have been supported with fellowships from Tokyo Art and Space, M+ Museum of Visual Culture and the Hong Kong Design Trust. Hugh is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia.